Saturday, June 02, 2012

This Week in Texas Methodist History June 3

Mr. and Mrs. J. R. Peace Announce Gift for Chapel at Lakeview   June 7, 1961

For the last fifty years visitors to Lakeview Methodist Conference Center near Palestine, Texas, have noted the inspiring presence of Peace Chapel on the beautiful grounds.  Since peace is such a central concept of Christianity, it would natural to assume that Peace Chapel was named for the main teaching of the Prince of Peace.

Peace Chapel is actually the result of the generosity of John R. Peace (1889-1972) and Lillian Stack Peace (1893-1988) of East Bernard in Wharton County

J.R. Peace came to East Bernard to assume the school superintendency in 1915.  He was soon elected County School Superintendent, but left to become superintendent of schools in LaGrange, and later Brenham.  The family returned to East Bernard in 1926.  Although Peace had a bright future as an educator, he became better known as a businessman.  In the 1930s he was involved in poultry production.  A New Deal program, though, pointed him in a new direction and laid the foundation for prosperity.  Lyndon Johnson (another Southwest Texas State Teacher’s College alumnus) was Texas director of the National Youth Administration.   The NYA was designed to provide employment and job skills to unemployed youth.  Johnson came to East Bernard and arranged for Peace to direct a NYA facility in East Bernard that would train youth in the skill of furniture making. 

The NYA was discontinued, and the federal government gave the building to the Wharton County commissioners who in turn gave it to the East Bernard schools.  In 1947 the school district sold the building to the National Furniture Manufacturing Co., organized by J. R. Peace. 

Lakeview had already been blessed by the Peace’s involvement.  J. R. served as secretary of t the board and contributed for the construction and furnishing of facilities.  His grandson’s observation of the lack of a church at church camp led to an historic announcement at the Texas Annual Conference on June 7, 1961.  Lakeview Superintendent, Rev. Nace Crawford, introduced J. R. and Lillian to the Conference.  They then announced their gift of $75,000 for the construction of a chapel at Lakeview. 

Construction soon followed, and Peace Chapel was ready for the campers who came to Lakeview in the summer of 1962---exactly fifty years ago.  


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